NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave his annual State of the League address on Friday. Here are the top 10 issues he addressed.
1. Player safety:
“I believe safety is all of our responsibilities,” Goodell said. “The players have to do it. The coaches have to do it. Our officials have to do it. Our medical professionals have to do it. All of us are going to have to do it. I’ll do anything to help make our game safer and better, and they have my commitment to that.”
2. Tackling techniques:
Goodell indicated NFL players will have to stop leading with their heads to tackle. He insisted there is a proper “strike zone” that needs to be emphasized and players needed to use their arms and shoulders more to tackle.
He said better helmets may be allowing players to take risks with their heads, and he noted the NFL must reduce helmet-to-helmet hits.
3. HGH testing:
“I believe that HGH testing is going to happen prior to the 2013 NFL season,” Goodell said. “It’s the right thing to do for the players.”
4. President Barack Obama’s comments about player safety:
“I welcome the President’s comments,” Goodell said. “We want to make sure people understand what we are doing to make our game safer.”
5. Extended season:
Goodell did not explicitly answer questions about a potential 18-game season, which some players say represents the NFL’s hypocrisy on player safety. He did, in an interview with the NFL network after his address, note that the league was looking into reducing the number of games played in the preseason.
6. Rooney Rule:
Goodell said the NFL “didn’t have the outcomes we wanted” regarding the hiring of minority coaches this season. Fifteen head coaching and general manager positions were vacant, and none of those jobs were filled by minority candidates.
“The Rooney Rule has been very effective,” Goodell said. “We want to make sure we have the best people in the best possible positions. We have to take it to another level.”
“There is no question there was a bounty program in place for three years,” Goodell said. “I think that’s bad for the players, the game, and I think the message is incredibly clear, and I don’t believe bounties are going to be part of football moving forward. That’s good for everybody. So I do think that message has come through clear.”
8. Next year’s Super Bowl in New York, which will possibly be played in frigid temperatures and snow:
9. His experience in New Orleans:
“I couldn’t feel more welcome. My picture is in every restaurant. I had a float in a Mardi Gras parade,” Goodell said. “I’m serious, people here have been incredible.”
New Orleans has not been happy with Goodell after Bountygate. Goodell has been welcomed with a float depicting him being swallowed by female genitalia, and restaurant owners have put up photos of him to indicate he is banned from entering their establishments.
10. Actions of NFL players off the field:
“Off the field, it’s very important for us to maintain our integrity and our brand,” Goodell said. “We expect the people that are involved in our game, from the commissioner to players to the coaches to make sure they uphold those standards. I’m proud of our players. I’m proud of what they do, but we always have to make sure that we’re reflecting positively on the shield.”